I don’t know why but when I heard Don Ngatia singing a little over a year ago his voice reminded me of chocolate caramel. The perfect blend of ingredients that just melts in your mouth and takes you to a very good place. A place that you never want to leave. That’s what Don’s singing does to you. Don is a Berklee Alumni and refers to his sound as afro urban music. He released a 3 song EP, Venus and Mars a few years back. He has also put three songs up on sound cloud that I’d like to review.
Solitude is an ode to unrequited love. Something that deeply resonated with me when I first heard it as I’d developed a huge crush on someone and I didn’t quite know when or how I’d see him again or if he felt the same way. Don talks about how it’s all a mystic parable, why do we keep being drawn back to this person, why do we feel that if only they gave us a chance everything would be right with the world again? Lord knows, but Don says everything you have ever wanted to say to this love, in a soulful caramel voice of course.
Listen to Solitude by Don Ngatia #np on #SoundCloud
Tide me over is a prayer, asking the Lord to give us wisdom and vision especially when we are lost and confused. When we aren’t sure of what we are doing or our pride has led us astray and we badly need that reassurance that we can call on someone or something more powerful than we are. It has a lovely guitar intro and some clapping towards the end that is reminiscent of a black evangelical church.
Listen to Tide Me Over by Don Ngatia #np on #SoundCloud
Mirabelle is a favourite with many of Don Ngatia’s fans and it’s easy to see why. Mirabelle is a song about life, love and everything in between. It’s set against the backdrop of Don Ngatia’s great caramel vocals, a good instrumental mix, lovely harmonies and is quite upbeat as well. I hope his music takes you to a good place!
Listen to Mirabelle by Don Ngatia #np on #SoundCloud
Towards the end of last year, on the day that Fatoumata Diawara was to grace Nairobi with her captivating presence, I was involved in a minor car accident. It definitely threw me off and it took me a while to get back into my regular routine. And in the middle of all this brouhaha I ended up taking a break from practice, blogging and a couple of other things. So now I am trying to get back to it all, music, writing…
The first song of the year is Rise by Mayonde. It was released over 2 years ago but for some reason it’s been my anthem since the year began. It’s been my trying to sing in the shower song.
Rise reminds us to keep fighting for ourselves. In Rise, Mayonde gives us the faith that is needed to keep believing in ourselves, to defiantly refuse to stay down, or to be left behind as everyone else forges ahead. I hope it inspires you as much as it has me to make 2017 the year that you will rise above. Have a wonderful year. I almost forgot to mention that the acoustic guitar gives us the perfect backdrop to this beautiful song !
Timbuktu, the ancient Malian city, full of mystery, culture, legends and so much more. It was the site of one of the earliest universities in Africa which was tragically destroyed , erasing enormous chunks of Africa’s precolonial intellectual thought. It’s also a city who’s fate was closely tied to that of the great Mansa Musa who essentially established it’s reputation as the “city of gold”.
It was interesting that I got to hear Fatoumata’s soulful , sultry , golden voice on the soundtrack of the movie Timbuktu known as Timbuktu Fasso. I was completely enraptured by her voice as she sung an ode to this ancient city. And for the longest time I was haunted by the vocalist behind it as the soundtrack was attributed to Amine Bouhafa. I did not look into it further. But as it turns out they worked on it together, with Bouhafa being the genius behind the instrumentation and composition. The instrumentation being a unique blend of African traditional instruments and Western instruments .
However, just like the ever mysterious city , she resurfaced through the Safaricom Jazz Festival. After seeing the poster I kept wondering who this Fatoumata Diawara was. Her name sounded like poetry, like it belonged to some siren of the sea or something. So I decided to look her up and as soon as I heard the first song. I knew I had found the enchanting voice behind Timbuktu Fasso. You can check it out right here and I’ve also included a peformance of her and Roberto Fonseca .
Aparo by Kato Change ft Lisa Oduor Noah
This video has good vibes written all over it. I always end up smiling to myself every time I watch it. It was made on a magical Nairobi night, full of happy people, fairy lights and fireworks. That and the amazing vocals of Lisa coupled with the guitar maestro Kato Change make it a video well worth checking out.
Linkomo by The Soil
Africans are tellers of great stories and I love how this story is told in this video. Lots of creativity and humour in this one. And the music itself is pretty upbeat and would definitely make you want to dance a little bit, or much. It was a recommendation from a friend, hope you enjoy it as well.
No Away by MI featuring Becca
From all the Nigerian vs Ghanaian jollof wars on social media I gather there is beef between the two countries. I have no idea what the beef is about but I certainly like the collabo between the two countries in this song. Check out No Away by MI and Becca.
Jason Sibi Okumu’s music has this amazing way of leading you to introspection. It’s like looking at a mirror or reading your journal. His music is authentic; so raw and real that I almost shied away from doing this review. The ‘Lonely streets of Boston’ is an EP by Jason.
The first song after which the EP is named tagged at my heartstrings. I felt like he was telling my own story. I couldn’t help but think of the times I’ve felt so lost, lonely and alone in this city that I’ve been born and raised. Where not even the familiarity of everything could take that feeling away. When I’ve known deep down that I really have got no idea what I’m doing yet I’ve been too afraid and proud to ask for help. And all I wished for was someone who could understand what I’m going through or just be there beside me. I can only imagine having this same feeling in a foreign place .
Now you know is the second song in the EP. We can all relate to having been asked that dreaded question since childhood, “What do you want to be when you grow up? “. At times I feel like deep down my answer may be like John Lennon’s, who as a child had aptly replied that he wanted to be was happy. Find out Jason’s take on this here.
Close your eyes and for a minute visualize what your life would look like if all your dreams came true. Would you finally be happy, would you lose your mind, would you feel empty, are you really ready to have what you wish for happen ? That’s Jason is musing about in this third song, On your side.
Said and done is the fourth song in this EP. I don’t know where to start. It’s beautiful , it’s raw , it’s soulful , completely captivating. I was taken in , I experienced so many emotions listening to it . I felt the pain of an almost impossible love and the beauty of an epic love . I saw just how brave it is to love . And how even more courageous it is to fight for this same love especially when the odds seem against it . This song is etched in my soul, and really words do fail to capture its beauty. Just listen to it already !
Winter is the last song on the EP. I will not say much about it. But I really like the visual he creates of winter coming . It’s so vivid , I felt like I was in Boston experiencing fall.
Jason Sibi-Okumu is a great songwriter . He has a way with his acoustic guitar and his words . His vulnerability in this EP is beyond inspiring . Definitely looking forward to more of his music .
01 Lonely Streets Of Boston – SoundCloud
When young Lira asks her “gugu” how she met her grandfather, she replies,” I sang him to me.” This is how the video of Lira’s “Phakade” begins, reeling us into her melodious magical world backed by a soundtrack of birds singing and crickets chirping. The song has a keyboard introduction that sets the stage for her powerful vocals intermingled with some amazing harmonies throughout. Lira’s voice is so soulful and captivating that I can only imagine what it would be like listening to her perform live. This video is of a love story. A story of how young Lira dreams of eternal (Phakade) love, inspired by her own grandparents love. If I was to fall in love again I think I would like him to be very much like Lira’s beau in this video. All dapper and handsome, playful with an easy smile. And most importantly a weaver of magic. Enjoy!
“We cut keys while you wait” is Blinky Bill’s first solo project after taking a hiatus from Just a band. This five track EP was released as a kind of teaser leading up to his upcoming solo album.I liked the introduction, had my head bobbing from the onset.Its mostly electronic and I’m sure I heard a trumpet sound sneak in somewhere closer to the end. “Don’t doubt” featuring Maia Von Lekow comes in next, keeping up with the upbeat dancelike feel from the intro.Wacha Maneno brings us the winning combination of Blinky and Shappaman.There is something about these two…lots of good vibes. It will definitely get you in the mood to get up and dance. I have to admit my favourite track is the soulful “Rise” featuring Sage. The lyrics are quite reflective and conscious. It’s also wistful and uplifting at the same time.I also enjoyed the extra instrumentals with the violin, keyboard and percussion.The EP comes to an end with Kwani iko nini? Staying true to the upbeat, lively nature of the EP. If you haven’t already listened to it, just follow the link and enjoy!
“Chemistry” by Tetu Shani, featuring Mayonde has been on replay in my playlist for the entire week. A friend recommended it and I have been hooked on it ever since. In this song, Tetu uses the acoustic guitar and a relaxing melody to create the perfect ambience. The introduction is a mellow guitar solo that lasts for about half a minute .Tetu Shani’s vocals begin the first verse, setting the stage for the dreamy feeling that stays throughout the song. Mayonde’s sultry voice then takes over from his. They keep switching the vocals between the two of them up until the chorus. The chorus is sung as a duet with harmony that contributes beautifully to this song.
“Chemistry” is of course, a song about love. It makes us want to fall in love again, get butterflies and float through clouds .Tetu and Mayonde sound great together, their artistic chemistry is amazing and the harmony between them makes you want to never stop listening.